HBO Go review: Winslet is Emmy-worthy in murder-mystery 'Mare of Easttown'

Fred Hawson

Posted at Apr 24 2021 09:16 AM

HBO Go review: Winslet is Emmy-worthy in murder-mystery 'Mare of Easttown' 1
Kate Winslet in 'Mare of Easttown.' Handout

Mare Sheehan (Kate Winslet) is a detective in her working-class hometown of Easttown, Pennsylvania. After making the winning shot of their championship basketball game 25 years ago, Mare earned the local nickname Lady Hawk and even had her jersey #23 framed. 

A number of her former teammates also stayed on in Easttown, like Lori (Julianne Nicholson) who was Mare's best friend, Beth (Chinasa Ogbuagu) whose brother was a thieving drug addict, and Dawn (Enid Graham) whose daughter Katie had been missing for a year.

Mare lives with her mother Helen (Jean Smart), her teenager daughter Siobhan (Angourie Rice) and her little grandson Andrew (Izzy King), apparently the son of a son whose story had yet to be told. She had been divorced from her husband Frank (David Denman), who ended up living just behind her house and was about to remarry a lady named Faye (Kate Arrington). One night in a bar, Mare met Richard Ryan (Guy Pierce), a writer with only one best-selling novel to his name, who may not be the one-night-stand Mare had in mind.

Meanwhile, there was a teenage single mother Erin McMenamin (Cailee Spaeny) who was hoping to meet a better man for her. Her son just turned a year old but needed an expensive medical procedure, which both her father and the child's father were reluctant to help finance. Her ex also had a ill-mannered current girlfriend who was not above bullying Erin for texting him. By the end of the episode, Erin would figure in a grim incident which would be the central mystery of this limited series.

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Of course, there is no more doubting Kate Winslet's commitment to playing real fully-rounded characters as she had done so in her previous films and TV work. Battle-scarred by her personal and professional losses, her Mare is tough, jaded and grumpy, at work, among her friends and even at home. Her close proximity to her ex-husband Frank provided comic sort of irony, while meeting Richard just may provide the much-needed romantic spark. An Emmy nomination for Winslet here would not be a surprise. 

So far, "Mare of Easttown" is poised to join the ranks of other acclaimed small town murder-mystery TV series in the past, like "Twin Peaks" to "Northern Exposure, "Fargo" to "Stranger Things." 

The pilot did just enough to introduce the main characters and their relationships, as well as to set up the crime and the possible suspects who may be involved. The next 6 episodes promise to drag the viewer further into the murky depths of Mare's past and that of Easttown itself, before the crimes (satisfactorily, I hope) are solved by series' end. 

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."